Tuesday, February 12, 2013

back in Haiti

The last week has been interesting. I’m back in Haiti from a really good visit to my parents in Michigan.  I'm so thankful for those who made that visit possible.  I'm glad to see my friends here again, and I'm especially grateful for the welcome I received on my return.  It surprised me that people had actually noticed I wasn't there and thought it worth mentioning.  And one of my classes at the seminary put up the nicest note on the board to welcome me back.

Do I have nice students or what?

I'm also glad my toes are no longer cold!

Of course, it's still an adjustment. It was only a couple of weeks, but I still nearly drank tap water in my sleepy state the first night.

We’ve had no power for some time now other than the short period of time when the generator goes on to pump water up to the château d’eau (our roof tank), and we're not likely to have it soon unless someone comes up with a new transformer.  Well, it is what it is.  It’s really not difficult to get used to having no lights. Other than my moments of slight trepidation on entering the bathroom (will there be another large spider or scorpion?), I’m perfectly fine with kerosene lamps, candles, and solar-charged flashlights and lanterns. [As an aside, let me just tell you that LLBean’s little solar lantern is far superior to the one from Eddie Bauer; flashlights the same. Thankful the latter was half-price so I don’t feel so irritated. That’s what it’s worth.]

I love my solar stuff.  And the LLBean lantern has my  permanent vote.

The two things that are the biggest pain in the neck are the lack of an iron and the lack of refrigeration. Now you might think that the former was not a big deal. However, this is Haiti. Everyone irons everything within an inch of its life. I fully intend later this week to learn to use one of the old ones filled with charcoal, which will make me look less of a ragbag. However, that won’t do for the altar linen order I’ve received back from the embroiderer, which needs to be washed and ironed before being sent out. I’m planning to go to our home for elderly women and spend the day there with it later on. Refrigeration, now – that’s not fun. Cheese isn’t very good when it’s been sitting around a while. But our milk comes powdered or in little cans, condensed, and we buy ice some days so as to have something cool to drink, so it’s not the end of the world.

So what surprises me now is to realize that my friends and sisters up in the northeast have it much worse. I gather the convent lost power and heat in this snowstorm, though I have no details. They have the wherewithal to take care of themselves, but there must be many who cannot. What about the elderly who have no one to check on them and can’t drive? It’s much worse to lose power up there than down here, at least in the winter. We don’t risk freezing to death. I trust the power will be back on soon up there, though, as it will not be here – but it’s a good reminder to all of us to take nothing for granted. 

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